We’re finishing up the last of the Turkish bacon we cured last month. After sourcing a belly from Hong Kong Market in late 2014 for a Kentucky-bacon project we switched our attention to Rouse’s to see if they could provide us with a better tended hog than Hong Kong.

Score.

While we’re not big fans of Rouse’s in general they did provide us with a well-marbled pork belly, and they’re buying power ensured that we did not pay a high price for the meat. On to our weekly roundup of charcuterie news:

If you’ve eaten cured meat in Chicago you can pen a sweet thank you note to Billy Pork http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/charcuterie-haccp-billy-nolen-consultant-publican-quality-meats-health-department-permit/Content?oid=15602901 in his heyday he was responsible for churning out 1.5 million pounds of sausage per year.

Jamon Iberico has traditionally been off limits to Muslims http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/12/16/371018946/at-last-muslims-can-savor-a-halal-spin-on-spains-famous-jamon due to the fact that many do not partake in pork. Faysal Mrad Dali has created a halal riff on the famed Spanish ham.

Tim Ray walked into the Dragon’s Den hoping for an investment in his Carnivore’s Club, a monthly cured meat subscription service http://business.financialpost.com/2015/01/12/founder-of-foodscrooge-hits-second-home-run-in-the-den-with-carnivore-club/ who doesn’t want a big box of meat delivered to their doorstep once per month?

We grew up eating plenty offal including brains from pigs raised on the family farm http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/11364723/Eating-offal-will-the-British-ever-fall-in-love-with-brains.html Sue Quinn wonders if there will ever be a demand from diners placed upon brains.

Carol Pulitzer sits down with New Orleans forager Ashley Locklear http://nolavie.com/this-little-piggy-went-to-market-14693/ the gals really have a time of it

We’re constantly experimenting in Scrumptious Chef’s New Orleans test kitchen. One imagines that our crew will be stooped, wizened and ready to fall over dead from old age before we even consider hanging up our spatulas and calling it a day.

Of course living in the 9th ward also means we could end up getting gunned down in the middle of the street but that’s another story entirely.

Living in the garden of plenty that is Southeast Louisiana affords us plenty opportunities to experiment with seafood. We’re regulars at the Shrimp Lot in Westwego and we constantly prowl around the markets of New Orleans looking for fresh fishes, oysters, crabs and of course shrimp.

Which most recently led us to a wildly radical take on boiled shrimp using our Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker.

Nothing locks in flavor like a pressure cooker which set us to wondering if there was a way we could boil shrimp and get the vessel unlocked before they had turned to either rubber or mush.

Score.

Here’s our recipe for Pressure Cooker Shrimp Boil. We use an 8 quart Kuhn Rikon, it’s the centerpiece of our kitchen and the thought of life without it fills us with a sort of creeping dread. If you don’t have a pressure cooker in your arsenal it’s time to reevaluate your life as a cook.

New Orleans Seasoning Blend

1/4 c. Garlic Powder
1/4 c. Onion Powder
1/4 c. Cayenne pepper
1/4 c. White Pepper
1/4 c. Black Pepper
1/2 c. Salt, kosher

2 each lemons, sliced into discs
1 bulb garlic, chopped

3 lbs shrimp, head on, unshelled (we scored these shrimp from a tiny, Vietnamese market in New Orleans East)

2 lbs mushrooms, we use baby bellas

Method

* Bring 3 quarts water to boil with all above ingredients

* Let boil for 10 minutes

* Add shrimp, immediately place lid on pressure cooker

* When petcock on top of cooker pops up turn burner off

* Allow pressure cooker to cool off, when petcock collapses open vessel and strain shrimp into large colander

Cooking notes:

At this point we like to spread the shrimp across a baking sheet and place in the fridge for 30 minutes but this is just a personal preference. Shrimp taste better when they’re cooled off and even better when they’re completely chilled

Squeeze a lemon over the entire tray of shrimp prior to eating

Shrimp love lemon juice

Play with the recipe a bit if you’re of a mind and add ginger root, fresh horseradish, lemongrass or other seasonings that appeal to you.

Corn on the cob, smoked sausage and new potatoes would also make fine additions to this boil.

The recipe above came out unfathomably delicious. We’ve eaten New Orleans-style boiled shrimp since we were little kids and these stand among the finest we’ve ever sampled. The pressure cooker really “forced” the flavors deep into the shrimp.

They were sublime.

Bon Appetit y’all

There is a discussion on this recipe on Roadfood at http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/A-Recipe-For-Pressure-Cooker-New-Orleans-Shrimp-Boil-m800479.aspx

This is Scrumptious Chef article number 2,515

The Cactus Rose In Taylor Texas

The Cactus Rose In Taylor Texas

We can’t wait to get back to the Black Penny, the new craft beer bar on Rampart Street. We rolled up there Sunday night to pre-game before Bacchus and had a great time. Field report http://www.scrumptiouschef.com/food/2015/02/17/field-report-black-penny-on-north-rampart/

Robert Earl Keen is getting into the craft beer business. This stands in direct opposition to his fan-base, a rabid pack of Natural Lite drinkers http://blog.mysanantonio.com/food/2014/09/country-music-star-to-release-craft-beer-label/ Keen’s teaming up with Pedernales Brewing.

An entertaining read on Paul Smith College and their offering of a minor in craft beer studies http://www.nationaljournal.com/next-economy/solutions-bank/this-college-actually-lets-students-minor-in-craft-beer-20140911 Joe Conto, the director of the Hospitality, Resort and Tourism Management Program will head up the program.

$2 cans of craft beer! It’s happening during the daily happy hour at Borgne http://www.nola.com/drink/index.ssf/2014/10/borgnes_canned_beer_program_fr.html Kirk Coco has the best quote in the whole article where he refers to cans as mini-kegs.

I Think About Beer is one of our favorite beer blogs. Read about the oddball brew Faro from Boon Brewery http://ithinkaboutbeer.com/2014/08/25/boon-faro/

It’s tamale season year round at the Scrumptious Chef house. Here’s our latest look at the tamale universe.

Tamales In A Can

Tamales In A Can

Delicious Tamales in San Antonio, Texas is doing business the right way. They have a molino (food mill) where they grind the nixtamalized corn during the ramp-up to creating true, made from scratch tamales. They must be doing something right, they sell 4.5 million tamales per year http://www.ksat.com/content/pns/ksat/news/2014/12/23/west-side-shop-sells-millions-of-tamales.html

Maria Isabel Mendez has been purveying handmade tamales in New Orleans for 15 years. http://www.bestofneworleans.com/gambit/3-course-interview-maria-isabel-mendez/Content?oid=2556985 and I love that, according to her, there are no good enchiladas in New Orleans.

If you find yourself in Bali, Indonesia with a hankering for tamales http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/01/16/in-ubud-talking-texmex-hot-tamales.html
Greg Berlin has the hookup

McDonalds comes out against tamales in Mexico with predictable results http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/04/mcdonalds-mexico-facebook-ad-tamales
massive backlash. Joaquin Lopez-Doriga is succinct in his appraisal of their purview.

Our readers of a certain age will recall when President Gerald Ford traveled to Texas and attempted, in his own bungling way, to eat a tamale http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2015/02/a-briefing-on-the-eating-of-tamales/385196/

Ed Diaz knows how to properly open a bar.

In late 2009 Mr Diaz brought craft cocktails to the then-seedy North Rampart when he flung the doors open at Bar Tonique and ushered in the modern fine drink renaissance in New Orleans.

Now Diaz has turned his attention to the craft beer lovers of the Crescent City with his newest storefront: the Black Penny. Walking in, you can feel the history of the ancient building (constructed in 1831) as the renovators had an appropriately light touch; shiplap and old plaster walls bring to mind the Napoleon House while white leather banquettes pull the bar firmly into the 21st century.

The beer list runs towards 50 cans with a handful of nominal beers like Bud Lite taking up a bit of menu space for the cargo shorts and flip flops crowd but, as one scrolls down, the list grows more interesting with beers from Southern Prohibition, Wasatch, Evil Twin, Mikkeler and even Yo Ho Brewing out of Japan. At $10 per can this Japanese brew is too dear for me but it’s heartening to see it on a New Orleans beer menu.

Service is amiable. The barkeeps routinely circle through the two adjoining bars asking after their patrons needs. The girl next to me is babbling drunk and cursing softly into her Bud Lite and I note one of the bartenders casting a weather eye toward her to see if she will be allowed to stay or must be put out before her behavior becomes untenable.

In the old days on Rampart she would’ve been whisked outside, relieved of her purse and sold to the white slavers.

The soundtrack is killer with plenty Wipers, Saints and Gang Of Four fueling the revelers. The crowd is sparse but the bar hasn’t even been open a week and we can see big crowds shoehorning into the space once the word gets out that there’s good craft here and the average price is roughly $4 per can.

Don’t go to Black Penny expecting fancy cocktails. This is a whiskey on the rocks-cold can of beer joint, a style of bar that’s slowly dying out as hyper-specialization has been the drinkery trend in New Orleans for the past few years.

Do go to Black Penny if you like sitting in a dark bar with a cold, well made beer, candles flickering about and an old school punk soundtrack driving the beat while the ambulances and police cars race by right outside the door.

This is the former Sandy’s Hi Da Way for New Orleanians of a certain age.

The Black Penny is located at 700 North Rampart

Operating hours are 4pm to 4am daily